Clean and Sober (1988)
Reviewed on 2010 August 18
Gripping movie that follows the journey of an obnoxious yuppie from addiction to sobriety. It made an impression on me because the lead character started out as such a horse’s backside and yet I still wanted to see what happened next.
Darryl Poynter (Michael Keaton) is a hot-shot real estate agent, who apparently makes enough money to buy lots of Columbian marching powder and booze for his chrome bar. When he wakes up one morning and realizes things are out of hand in both his personal and business life, he heads for the only place he knows he’ll be completely safe: a rehab clinic. “Safe” he may be, but he’ll still be tested. He has to deal with Craig (Morgan Freeman), a hard case counselor whose desire to see Darryl get clean is only eclipsed by his impatience with Darryl’s B.S.
This is an ’80s flick, notable for Michael Keaton going against his everyman, nice-guy persona. For 124 minutes he does a very good job of playing a total version of what most of us imagine happened to many of the jock and fratboy types that thought they could go through life using Budweiser® as a verb. It was amazing, watching the character realize that yes, he does have a problem, and he’d better deal with it. It’s also interesting to see M. Emmett Walsh as the sponsor, who’s the best thing that can happen to Darryl. Four years earlier he played an amoral greaseball in Blood Simple, and here he’s pretty much wisdom incarnate. The story isn’t flashy, but the acting more than makes up for that.
Three chocolate morsels.